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Read Introduction to Revelation

 

“And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…”

 

Revelation 1:5 was a verse of conflict in the fourth century. The Arians claimed that Jesus was a created being, not God. Jehovah’s Witnesses continue that belief today. The Council of Nicea in A.D. 325 rejected Arianism as heresy. The Council affirmed that the Son was of the same substance with the Father (homoousion), not merely of similar substance (homoiousion). 

the firstborn from the dead,

“Firstborn” has two usages in the New Testament: 1. literal and 2. figurative. The literal usage had to do with the first son born in the family having the birthright to double portion of the inheritance. He became the family head. The figurative use was the superiority of rank. Here are examples of figurative use: 

Israel as the firstborn of God (Ex 4:22)

David as “the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psa 89:27)

Jesus as “the firstborn among many brothers” (Ro 8:29) 

Jesus as “the firstborn of all creation” (Co 1:15)

Jesus as “the firstborn from the dead” (Co 1:18; Re 1:5) 

Jesus as the firstborn of God (He 1:6) 

The Church as “the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (He 12:23)

Under Judaism, the right of the firstborn son held status. “Firstborn” does not necessarily imply other children in the family. It conveys superiority of rank in specific contexts. Here, the Greek word (prototokos) does not refer to first in sequence of time but first in preeminence. He ranks superior to any in His class of resurrected ones. The term does not mean He was the first chronologically raised from the dead. For example, Lazarus rose from the dead before Jesus, and there were a number of resurrections in the Old Testament. But Jesus stands as premier in the realm of those raised from the dead.

Jesus is first in position over creation.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:15-16).

Jesus is first in resurrection (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

Jesus is first in rank over the church.

Jesus is the first to rise from the dead permanently (1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18). Other people were raised from the dead only to die again, which was not resurrection but resuscitation. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, but he died again and was mortal (Jn 11:30-44). God raised Jesus from the dead to live forever. Jesus has immortality.

“Which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

The New Testament calls Jesus “firstborn” five times and “only begotten” five times. Five passages in the New Testament portray Christ as first in priority. Colossians 1:15 presents Him as first before all creation, and He is also the originator of creation.

Principle:

We should give Jesus first place in our lives.

Application:

Jesus has the right to first place in our lives.

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